The location party was advancing through was changing. The car had entered a valley, and the farther they went, the fewer houses there were. It seemed as though even the road was getting somewhat narrower.
Already the sun had dropped from the sky, and darkness had fallen.
According to the time displayed on the clock inside the car, it was 9:00 PM.
The darkened road was illuminated in the high beams from the station wagon, but the world just a little way ahead was covered in darkness.
The number of trees nearby increases, becoming a wood a first until at last, they were traveling on a forest road.
Even with the cars, it was different, as the vehicles that were being driven around before were no longer there.
"Uwaa…. This certainly isn't a popular place."
While peering at the state of affairs outside the window, Natsume voiced a few of her thoughts.
This station wagon might have been similar to a reckless person's coffin plunging into hell.
The view outside alone was enough to give someone the chills. Perhaps it was because it was ominously overgrown with various unfamiliar trees, but the atmosphere was enveloped with peculiar darkness.
"By any chance, will we perhaps are fighting in a forest for the first time?"
Tobio muttered while gazing at the forest.
Hearing that, the expression of Sae who was beside him instantly darkened.
A battle in a forest late at night. It seemed that it would be an intense fight when compared to the above-average conditions of downtown or a department store.
Tall grasses, never knowing what's underfoot, and trees that give rise to shadows as well as a cover. For them, these would become dangerous factors.
If they use the trees as cover, they could be used defensively as well, but the same was true for their opponents. And in regards to the dark forest that was right before them, they were well aware that it was enemy territory.
Well then, if we were to be attacked in the forest, just how would we fight?
Tobio was pondering this. Barakiel then spoke.
The cursor on the car navigation system was steadily beginning to overlap their destination point.
For a short while now, perhaps because they'd gotten close to their destination, the guidance voice from the navigation system had been speaking up frequently.
They would reach their destination very soon.
The headlights revealed what seemed to be a person on the road in front of them!
Barakiel hurriedly hit the brakes, and the car came to an emergency stop. With everyone riding in the vehicle being impacted by the sudden breaking, Sae and Natsume reflexively let out shrieks of, "Kyah!"
Samejima leaned forward from the back seat to inquire.
"A person! There's what appears to be a person in up ahead!"
It was Natsume who answered Samejima's question.
In response to the sudden event, Barakiel unfastened his seat belt. Before getting out of the car, he calmly spoke to Tobio and the others.
"Around here it wouldn't be unusual even if something were to occur already. Don't neglect to be cautious."
Having spoken thus to his students, taking a flashlight in his right hand, he opened the door and headed towards the figure up ahead.
Tobio caught his breath. Vali was the model of composure. A cheerfully intrepid smile appeared on his face. Jason followed the group with his expressionless face. No one knew what he was thinking at the moment.
Barakiel aimed the light of his flashlight forward and investigated. But the figure, what had appeared to be a person did not become visible at all.
It had been a misunderstanding… an apologetic ambiance drifted through the car. If a person from the village had appeared, that would also have been fine. It was the present situation that nobody came out that was the most ominous.
That was because this phenomenon itself, given their opponents' ability, could possibly be a trap. That was something that everyone who was presently recognized.
A feeling of tension had drifted through the car's interior, but Barakiel who was outside the car, perhaps having sensed some indication, aimed his flashlight at a certain point, and his expression became quizzical.
"Is there somebody there?"
Outside of the car, Barakiel inquired as such to somebody.
The gaze of everyone in the car gathered in the direction Barakiel had addressed.
For a moment, there was silence. Then, from the shadows of the trees beside the road, there was a single figure appeared.
When Barakiel aimed his light there, what was there was the frantic form of a lone girl.
She was a blond (part of her long hair had been braided) with dark-tinged features that suggested she was a foreigner. The right eye was blue, and the left eye was black.
"Shigune-san!" Sae screamed when she saw her friend's figure.
Shigune was wearing the Nephilim school uniform… but it had gotten dirty in several places, and there were even parts that were torn. There was also a little bit of mud that had gotten on her face. She was breathing heavily, which made it clear she had just been fleeing for her life.
She appealed to Barakiel with a voice that seemed to take a lot out of her.
Barakiel nodded once.
"Woah woah woah! Are you alright!?"
Natsume and Sae rushed over to the now seated Shigune to lend her a gentle hand.
At the same time, Tobio and Samejima, who had also exited the vehicle, being faced with the safety of one of their remaining classmates, relaxed their tension to a degree and let light smiles leak out.
In the car, Jason noticed something that was being held in Shigune's arms and spoke to Vali.
"Is that Shigune's Sacred Gear?"
In her arms, she was holding a small quadruped that was wearing something like a mask over its face. Two horns were growing from its head. The mask meanwhile had some kind of pattern like that of a character on it.
That was displayed as the pattern relating to Toutetsu of the Four Fiends that was featured in Toutetsu engravings. In other words, the mysterious creature Shigune was holding was a Sacred Gear, one of the Four Fiends, the one known as Toutetsu.
It was the first time Jason saw Shigune's Sacred Gear. He hadn't seen her much as he used to spend time in the kitchen and when she went to class with Tobio and the rest, she didn't take her Sacred Gear with her.
Shigune, having been looked after and having recovered her disposition that had slackened slightly, spoke to Tobio and the others.
"We should get away from here! People using strange techniques—"
Shigune only spoke to that extent, and the reason soon became obvious.
Next to Tobio, a growl was released from Jin.
Ahead of the front of the car, towards the road that remained just slightly dark in spite of the headlights, which was where the black dog Jin directed his threat. His jet black fur bristled violently, and he bared his fangs.
Seeing that, Tobio and the others took defensive postures.
Natsume let out a "Chih chih chih" sound from her mouth, and with the sound of flapping wings, Griffon descended from the out of the darkness. From there, he perched on her shoulder.
As Samejima was also preparing himself, Byakusa moved from his shoulder to his arm.
Unnoticed, the sound of insects had died out.
Little by little, their skin began to crawl from the bloodthirst and hostility.
At the quiet call of his master, Jin produced a distorted sword from the shadows at his feet and prepared to use his mouth.
Jason, Vali, and Lavinia had also gotten out of the car.
"Hmph, such obvious killing intent. Interesting."
"This presence, it is not a magical formula."
It was when all members had completed their battle preparations.
Jason activated his death eyes to see the enemy. He frowned when he saw what was coming. Jason had seen the description of this sacred gear on the papers Barakiel had handed out.
What appeared in the area illuminated by the headlights was uncanny, one-legged, fifty centimeter stone statue. With tiny wings growing from its back and a single horn on its head, its appearance was one of something grotesque.
Barakiel stiffened and shouted as the stone statue suddenly moved as though it was violently shivering.
"Close your eyes!"
As Barakiel instructed, everyone closed their eyes, and even further covered their eyes entirely with their arms!
In an instant, the area was filled entirely with dazzlingly intense light.
When the light stopped, Tobio and the others timidly opened their eyes. The uncanny stone statue that had been illuminated by the headlights had vanished.
Barakiel spoke with a bitter expression.
"Really, so they're sending that out first huh. That is a Sacred Gear."
Jason picked up from there.
"It was also written in those files, right? Cursed Statue of Radiance Lost. As for its characteristic, if one directly receives the light it releases, it gradually steals their eyesight. Depending on the circumstances, a person's eyes would become entirely unable to see anything."
It was a terrifying thing that the youth was saying, but his expression was composed.
Natsume swallowed and spoke.
"Isn't that beyond terrifying?"
Barakiel then replied.
"It should have been described in the material as well. The Abyss Team consists of members with those sorts of abilities."
Chapter 1 of ???
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